It's been a hard year for aid workers, as we've seen colleagues taken hostage or killed in the Middle East. Every time it happens, it feels as though we have lost one of our own even if we don't know them personally.

And those of us who have worked on the Syria Border or in Iraq, as I have this year, know the almost unbearable tension of living with the deep concern of our families and the compelling urge to help those in one of the world's most appalling conflicts.

But the reality that, right this minute, people are being raped, tortured, beheaded, persecuted, imprisoned and sold as slaves is only part of the story. It is of course a reason that we continue to go as close as we can to the world's hardest places, and why we continue to live with the grief that we can't quite reach the people caught up in those imaginable horrors.

On its own, though, it isn't enough.

Because, as we remember at this time of year, we are also motivated by the stubborn and persistent belief that things can - and one day will - be better.

If faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1), then this year has been a true test of faith for many of us. There has been so much that we have wanted in order to assist the world's poorest people, and so much that we have not been able to see.

But we have a hope, and his name is Jesus.

This year, above almost all years in living memory, we choose to believe that the story God is telling, through the whole of history and into eternity, in every country around the world, is taking us towards something that is better. And that we are characters in his stupendous plot, in a chapter that will, eventually, make sense.

Katie Harrison from Tearfund